back to article Firefox to banish hidden Flash files – and kill off sneaky ad snoopers

Firefox will next month automatically block invisible Flash content that users cannot see when loading a page, says Mozilla as it continues its campaign against Adobe's plugin. This should protect netizens from dodgy webpages that load hidden malicious Flash files that attempt to infect their computers with malware or perform …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All the BBC video reports and iPlayer programmes still ask for Flash to be activated on my Firefox 47.0. Does Flash need to be completely uninstalled to make the BBC use HTML5?

    1. John Miles

      BBC

      iPlayer seems OK with no flash installed on Firefox - but any news video comes up install flash (or at least was last time I checked)

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: BBC

        Same here; linux box with no flash installed. "Install Flash Player" for any news video, same for three random iplayer things from last night - complaining that they can't be played on the html5 beta - and the the same on a random thing from Radio 4. Listen live just sits there loading for ever and ever...

        C'mon guys, it's not *that* difficult. If Youtube can do it, I'm sure you can.

        1. F0rdPrefect
          Boffin

          Re: BBC - "Listen live just sits there loading for ever and ever"

          When that happens click pause then click play and it should start.

          Works for me. Mostly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BBC

        iPlayer seems OK with no flash installed on Firefox - but any news video comes up install flash (or at least was last time I checked)

        Set your user agent to something like iOS and even the Beeb will work properly (so I wonder why they don't serve that by default). However, "iPlayer Download" is based on *cough, barf, splutter* Adobe Air, which I consider a worse abomination than even Flash - Flash has never managed to halt OSX completely, whereas Adobe Air manages that with ease (the only application that does so, so God alone knows WTF those idiots have done).

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      the BBC is a Pain in the Ass

      for insisting that it needs flash to be installed.

      My MBP has never had that abomination called Flash installed and still I get sites that can't even show the home page because it is all written in Flash.

      Those sites I blacklist but it is hard to see why the BBC can't simply move everyone over to the mobile site and be done with it. After all iOS has never had flash (and whatever you think of Steve Jobs, this was a smart decision ) and it shows the BBC pages perfectly well.

      1. earl grey Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: the BBC is a Pain in the Ass

        I shouldn't have to tell you this, but you're doing it wrong.

    3. JMcL

      The BBC website was still demanding I install Flash on my Android tablet when I tried to look at a news clip at the weekend. Good luck with that one (and I know there's an app for that, but I don't want yet another app taking up space for no good reason)

    4. big_D Silver badge

      I don't have Flash installed on any of my machines and the BBC site just says that I should use a modern browser (I'm using Edge, Chrome and Firefox, all on the latest versions)... No BBC, you need a modern website!

  2. NanoMeter

    Flash

    is the "plugin from hell". It's deactivated permanently on 99% of websites in my FF browser. A few websites which do not run ads is allowed to use it.

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Flash

      I dislike Google's business practices as the next guy but keeping their browser around just for flash sites has been my strategy for quite some time. Flash is built into Chrome, usually the most up to date version and most importantly sand boxed correctly. The problem for the longest time with FF is the separate flash plugin necessary was actually available for more than just FF and was not sandboxed and often out of date. Haven't followed if that has changed recently though. I do know the first thing I do when I install FF or Palemoon is install NoScript and by default block flash and java always for both black and white listed sites.

      1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Flash @asdf

        I use Chrome for similar reasons but on Ubuntu 15.10 it crashes a lot. Example 1: Log into bank, and get a "WebGL has crashed, continue or reload?". Example 2: Log into Plex and after streaming some movies and quitting I find that Chrome had actually crashed at the login screen (the auto fill password is where it goes wrong). Maybe these problems will go away when I get around to installing 16.04.

        Chrome version 51.0.2704.106 (64-bit)

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Flash @asdf

          Sorry to hear. Got tired of Ubuntu and Unity long ago so can't comment except to say at least on LMDE for the few limited media websites (mostly Youtube, Netflix) I use it for it works brilliant. Still use https everywhere and privacy badger on it along with running it through privoxy because I do that will all browsers always by habit. Also don't use a Google account ever because fsck Google. Also I saw something this morning about how to use pepper to safely sandbox flash even with Firefox but considering I use Palemoon (same plugin system but still) instead as my system browser not worth the bother for me since Chrome works. Actually mainly browse with Midori (only browser really modern and fast enough to do this at least on my hardware) running out of an OpenBSD VM (ssh X forwarding SECURITY extension on) through tor, polipo, and privoxy jacked up. Sorry for the tl;dr.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. asdf Silver badge

            Re: Flash @asdf

            Forgot to mention I use Pale Moon as my main browser because any browser you enter passwords in regularly really should have the NoScript addon and plus FF itself includes telemetry code PM doesn't (plus Pale Moon a bit more obscure for attack purposes). Goes without saying any Google code is bound to spy on you so Chrome as a main browser is a no go. Still with Chrome Netflix just works which definitely can't be said for FF (last I tried).

        2. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Flash @asdf

          >Chrome version 51.0.2704.106 (64-bit)

          Was going to say try the 32 bit version but remember Chrome no longer has a 32 bit version (you could probably still get the last version they released and might match age of your OS better but probably has unpatched security holes). You might also try latest Opera (not Presto usually in repos so will need to download deb from Opera web site) as it comes with PPAPI (sandboxed) flash built in as well.

    2. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: Flash

      Java is the "plugin from hell". Flash is a distant second.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flash

        Java is the "plugin from hell".

        Java or javascript? Enquiring minds would like to know.

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: Flash

          Javascript isn't a plugin, its built into most (all?) browsers these days. So Java must be the plug in from hell. I never install/enable it any more.

          1. asdf Silver badge

            Re: Flash

            >So Java must be the plug in from hell. I never install/enable it any more.

            The JRE itself is a security risk but much less than IcedTea (should brand it something less satisfying but more accurate like crushed testicles) or any other Java plugin (which are separate from the JRE but expose it to the intertubes) which is one of the first thing you should remove from any Linux distro (along with Flash).

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Flash

        "Java is the "plugin from hell". Flash is a distant second."

        thumbsup from me. And I assume that's JAVA, not javascript, though javascript _IS_ the cancer that kills "teh intarwebs". 300k+ for freaking jquery or whatever OTHER garbage-script that could be done with style sheets or good-old-fashioned-html. YUCHHH!

        1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: Flash

          As an old-fashioned web builder, I looked with amazement on a site a junior new kid built where every single thing was a jquery. Really? A hover state?

  3. Peter X
    FAIL

    Re BBC

    The BBC news site will play HTML 5 video *if* your user agent looks like something mobile. Otherwise it just says "You need flash to play this content" (or something like that), Which is a bit crap really.

    1. Cynical Observer
      Thumb Up

      Re: Re BBC

      @Peter

      They must have changed it - admittedly very recently.

      Just looked tonight and the News site is playing videos for Firefox on Linux - no flash at all on this machine. I’m sure that as recently as last week it was demanding Flash.

      1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

        Re: Re BBC

        Don't know about BBC video as I'm in the states and cannot be arsed trying to get round their geo blocking. I do use BBC radio all the time and last time I looked they had a beta HTML5 setting so as not to use flash. It didn't work for me so had to go back to flash, alas. That was about a month ago so don't know if they progressed any. Still, at least they're working on it. I cannot think of anything else I MUST have so once the BBC pulls out its fingers and thumbs I should be able to drop the flash thing once and for all.

        For anyone interested goto http://www.bbc.co.uk/html5

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Re BBC

          Last time I went to the html5 page it said my browser was not supported, now it says 'we expect your browser to work' (Firefox 43 was on the list of supported I'm on Firefox 47). But when I clicked through to the news, and a video item 'You need to install Flash' popped up again (after a couple of seconds delay to give me false hope).

          What the hell is wrong with giving an option to switch to beta (and warning it is a beta) if it detects no Flash? Clearly Firefox 47 trumps Firefox 43 or is this working on the redmond data vacuum system and this is the usual 'Linux blindness....

          I'm not going to be cutting on the next BBC survey, I'm going to be scathing.....

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Re BBC

            I worked for the firm for thirty-odd years, *and* I did some (project, not code) work on the radio iplayer six years ago. I'm going to be bloody furious if they don't get their act together sometime soon.

            I wonder if its because of all these 'smart' TVs whose browsers can't be updated and are restricted to flash?

            1. Franco Silver badge

              Re: Re BBC

              For a real showstopper, the WM10 version of the iPlayer app works perfectly in normal mode. However, it is a Continuum aware UWP app (allegedly) but when you connect to a large screen it tells you the content isn't available without Flash.

              Does work via Edge though.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Re BBC

        @ Cynical Observer

        "Just looked tonight and the News site is playing videos for Firefox on Linux - no flash at all on this machine. I’m sure that as recently as last week it was demanding Flash."

        - Using Firefox? Any change to User Agent?

        - Beeb still acting like a terminal Flash addict on the News site for me Firefox 47.0.1 on Archlinux, definitely no flash installed whatsoever. Checked less than a minute ago.

        I'm on often enough I get about 3 surveys requests a year, and I've been increasingly pointed about the need for flash on every one. Next one I am going to be cutting...

        1. Cynical Observer

          Re: Re BBC

          @ Teiwaz

          Checked again this afternoon - video plays OK on the News site.

          OpenSuse Tumbleweed

          Firefox 47.0.1

          User Agent Overrider installed - but currently not working (Set to Default)

          Other add ons that really shouldn't matter....

          uBlockOrigin

          NoScript - BBC allowed

          Privacy Badger and Disconnect

          Certainly last week it was demanding Flash be installed.

      3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Re BBC

        I just checked BBC News with FF 45.2.0 ESR and it still demands Flash to play anything

    2. HelpfulJohn

      Re: Re BBC

      "The BBC news site will play HTML 5 video *if* your user agent looks like something mobile."

      No, it won't.

      It might try to and it might actually download the content but when it tries to play I get "This content does not seem to be working."

      All BBC News videos and audio files.

      I wouldn't know about iPlayer as I've yet to see any of their programs that I would like to watch.

  4. Oldfogey

    Re:BBC

    Has anybody tried "User Agent Switcher"?

    1. Not That Andrew

      Re: Re:BBC

      That should work, as mentioned above, the only way to reliably play HTML5 video on the Beeb is to spoof your user agent.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now Only if Bell Media Would Dump Flash

    Every site they own stubbornly insists on Flash for everything.

  6. Florida1920 Silver badge

    BBC video still Flash here

    Using Chrome 51.0.2704.106m (64-bit), on this page: An underwater drone to explore the deep the site asked me to activate Flash to view the video.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: BBC video still Flash here

      I think firefox used to have a global setting that let you determine whether or not flash COULD be enabled. There WAS a web page for youtube to (by default) play in HTML5...

      https://www.youtube.com/html5

      it has some browser compatibility tests on it. might be helpful.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: BBC video still Flash here

        So... changed the user agent to iphone and suddenly both BBC news video and pre-recorded radio worked. Couldn't make live radio work, nor TV iplayer...

        This is bloody ridiculous.

  7. Richard 12 Silver badge

    That graph is seriously dodgy

    The trend line is way off!

    It's already flat, according to that data they haven't notably reduced the base rate of crashes at all since YouTube lost Flash.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: That graph is seriously dodgy

      "lies / damned lies / statistics"...

  8. Captain Badmouth
    Paris Hilton

    BBC embarressment

    They're obviously very touchy on the subject, perhaps a BBC insider on here could give us the lowdown? I phoned in a question to a BBC radio programme on internet security specifically asking why they needed flash player, predictably they turned it into a generic question about flash and why you should be careful from which sites you should download it.

    Paris, the only flash player I'd have in my house, and even then.....

    1. earl grey Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: BBC embarressment

      Paris, the only flash player I'd have in my house, and even then.....

      You know better than to press any buttons or twist any knobs...

  9. eJ2095

    Flash

    Gordons alive..... ok will get coat and hat

  10. Starace

    Figleaf

    They're busy knocking back Flash and claiming it causes instability (fair enough) but what is their excuse for the utter lack of stability in their Flash-less and feature restricted Android client?

    Once they knock down Flash what are they going to have to blame for the bloat, resource leaks, insecurity and instability other than their own junk code base?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    can't we all just leave flash where it belongs - in the last century?

    You know we all love a conspiracy theory.

    My latest one is that adobe secretly owns all antivirus / antimalware companies.

    Think about it!

  12. druck Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Raspberry Pi

    The BBC News flash video clips play with scrambled sound on my Pi2 & Pi3, not managed to get it to play the HTML5 version yet (no problems with HTML5 on YouTube).

  13. fidodogbreath Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Flash must die

    There. I said it.

  14. UKSP
    Thumb Down

    BBC et al still fail on flash

    The sooner Flash is finished the better. But HTML5 has to be able to handle everything, which it doesn't. The BBC are a real pain, but they're not the only idiots on the block. Sick of the install a wretched flash plugin message using my Android devices.

    Die, Flash, die!

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